In the waning days of 2018, the North Carolina Rate Bureau, a group led by the state’s insurance companies, filed notice to state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey asking to increase rates for homeowners’ coverage. They wanted to increase the cost for individual policies on average 17.4 percent across the state. In coastal areas like the Outer Banks, that increase would actually be 30 percent!
To make matters worse, this is not the first time that the Rate Bureau has asked for a significant increase. Less than 18 months ago, they submitted a request for a statewide average rate increase of 18.9 percent. Thanks to the work of Commissioner Causey, supported by the advocacy of thousands of North Carolinians, this request was ultimately reduced to an average of no more than a 5.5 percent increase statewide.
In just the past few weeks, there has already been action on the current filing. Again, homeowners and REALTOR® voices were heard. On February 7, the Commissioner Causey notified the Bureau that he rejected their proposal and ordered a hearing on the issue for later this year. In his notice, Commissioner Causey stated clearly that the proposed rates “appear to be excessive and discriminatory.”
Advocacy is important to encourage change and this issue is no different. If approved, the rate increase would impact people in different ways based solely on where they live. Some could see double-digit increases as high as 30 percent. But without hearing from persons from the mountains to the coast, many of the personal stories of how these rates affect real people wouldn’t be heard.
The North Carolina Homeowners Alliance, a grassroots coalition of homeowners from across the state, engages on insurance issues because we recognize the impact that insurance has on housing access and affordability. Partnering with NC REALTORS and local REALTOR associations throughout North Carolina, we help raise awareness of issues which affect consumers’ most important investment: their home. Over the past month, we have engaged more than 5,000 homeowners who have told the Commissioner to reject this filing.
But we know that more voices are needed. The public comment period is open until this Tuesday (February 26). You can submit comments by emailing 2018Homeowners@ncdoi.gov. You can also learn more about the work of the Homeowners Alliance on this and other important issues by visiting our website at nchomeownersalliance.org.
Beth Blevins, REALTOR
Legislative Affairs Committee Chair
Central Carolina Association of Realtors